Do You Know the Difference between Annulment and Divorce?


Are you in the midst of planning for a divorce? Do you need an annulment? While both of these terms are court procedures that dissolve a marriage, they are not interchangeable terms. Here is how you can tell apart a divorce from an annulment, and a civil annulment from a religious annulment.

Civil vs. Religious Annulments

Civil annulments occur within the state of residency's court system and are a legal end to a marriage. A religious annulment occurs after a civil divorce, and is granted by the church. A religious annulment allows a person to have a second marriage that is recognized within their church. In the rest of this article, we will be referring to civil annulments.

Different Results

With a divorce, your marriage ends. The two parties involved become single once more and have the ability to marry someone else if they wish. In an annulment, the marriage essentially never existed, generally because it was never a legal marriage within your state of residency. An annulment is generally more straightforward than a divorce, as it has rather set requirements that must be proven for the annulment to be valid.

Different Requirements

Requirements for an annulment or a divorce may vary by state, but nationwide many of the requirements are similar. For divorce, the requirements tend to vary more widely from state to state, but usually involve one or more irreconcilable differences existing that led to the breakdown of the marriage, or another factor, such as adultery, desertion, or physical or emotional abuse. For an annulment, the factors tend to stay consistent from state to state, and must be proven.

Annulments usually occur after a short period of marriage and do not require the division of property or debts or the arrangement of child custody. If these factors are involved, the division will be handled according to the state of residence's policies. If you are still unsure as to whether or not you qualify for a divorce or an annulment, consult an experienced lawyer.

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